NEW YEAR'S TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS • TRAVEL BETTER IN 2020
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us and the world will be as one.
We wish a Happy New Year to our faithful community that keeps growing and sharing love and support with us, thanks a lot again for this. We are incredibly thankful to those who support this new project of ours.
Hoping 2020 will bring you tones of new exciting projects, thrilling adventures and, of course, travels.
As a new year starts, with it comes everyone's resolution lists. Every new year is the occasion for a fresh start, to set up new goals and an opportunity of becoming a better and happier human being. In this context, what could be better for our first 2020 article than a travel resolution list ?
I essentially wanted to take this time with you in today's article, just a moment to reflect and measure our impact and how we can do better with simple actions.
This article has no purpose at all in making people feel guilty or to judge/criticize in any way, it's just a call for everyone to take their responsibilities as citizens of this world, to face the truth and become more aware, for us to find solutions to improve our ways of traveling, to preserve those incredible places, cultures, and wildlife all around the globe.
1 - Get second-hand stuff
Tent, backpack, mattress, sleeping bag or even clothes... Why everything has to be brand new ? Why not fighting in this society of consumption we are living in ?
It's not only helping in the reduction of resources, but it's also good for your finances.
As a buyer, you can find really good material for twice (or even more) less expensive.
Or as a seller, recycle your stuff, it will make you feel good to give your items a second life and you will even get some money out of it. Not a lot for some of them, but still more than if you throw those away or let them dusty in a garage right ? There is a lot of "recycling centers" or second-hand shops or even online ones. Go have a look.
For the anecdote, Pedro had a tent for a couple of years that he used several times to camp in Australia and New Zealand. This tent was from a friend of his, that had traveled for a while with it already, in many other countries. When Pedro left New Zealand, he gave his tent to one of his best friend who has been using it since then.
More recently, we've been to a New Year's festival where we've been camping in Brazil with this friend of his and guess what, he was still using Pedro's old tent. At the end of the festival, this friend gave it to another person that has planned a road trip around South America and who was in a need of a new tent because hers broke down during the festival. See ? 4 different owners for the same tent, which has at the end, traveled more than Pedro & I combined.
2 - Go Zero Waste
It's way easier than many people tend to think. Nowadays there are plenty of zero waste solutions. As a traveler, this is an idea of a little kit you can collect for yourself :
↠ Your own reusable water bottle, some of them can even filter the water if you are in a country that doesn't have clean water from the tap.
↠ Your own reusable coffee cup, some coffee shops even offer a discount when you bring your own cup.
↠ Your own reusable straw (or no straw at all).
↠ Your own take-away container and cutlery. This one is practical and economic. Perfect when you are road tripping or camping. Even when you are eating out and can't finish your food, instead of using a plastic takeaway container from the restaurant, you can ask to use your own.
↠ Say no to the flyers in the streets, no to straws in your drinks or to these little umbrellas in your cocktails.
↠ Your own bag for grocery shopping.
↠ Shop more in the bulk products section, to reduce plastic packages.
For some of them, there are always people that will look at you weirdly for using it, like if you were some kind of alien. But why caring ? You will also help to sensibilize others, not even with words and long speeches, but just by your actions.
See yourself as the seed planted in people's mind that will make grow more positive habits and awareness in their lives. Isn't cool to be a consciousness raiser ?
3 - Travel local
↠ Eat local and products of the season. Instead of picking a fancy touristic place or a chain restaurant, go eat where the locals eat. You will help the local shops to live and it will open your senses to a true culinary discovery.
↠ Visit local or visit more of your own country.
I know New Zealand by heart after living there for 16 months, I could tell you everything about the places to visit, the road trips to do, the best trails, the places to eat... But when it's about France, not so much. As Pedro spent this year in France with me to work, our seasonal activities allowed us to work and live in 2 different places throughout the year. The discovery wasn't only for him, but for me as well. It's strange to be a traveler in your own country, but it's actually a beautiful introspection for yourself and you get to explore some amazing unexpected landscapes.
↠ Meet the locals. Because that's what traveling is about, right ?
If you are just continually moving from a place A to B, without meeting anyone, then it's just moving - not traveling.
↠ Shop local & avoid touristic souvenir shops. First, going to the local shops will be, most of the time, less expensive for you. And on the other hand, it will participate a lot in the increase of the local economy, help you meet the locals and avoid to finance the multinational companies. (Pictures of Chiang Mai Food Market - North Thailand)
Let's take the example of Paris. The city is known for being one of the most touristic places in the world, mainly attracting international tourists, buying massively those "classic" souvenirs that EVERY SINGLE souvenir shop sells. What's the point of having the same thing as thousands of other people ? Let's be original and buy more local.
Furthermore, the products in those souvenir shops are mainly made and manufactured in China, Bangladesh or India, probably exploiting the workers by the way...
Please people, don't participate in the proliferation of this system. As travelers, we can decide to stop buying from those unethical businesses. If our behavior changes, this kind of activity will start to stop. That's how you act for changement.
4 - Take your time
The keyword here is "Quality". Always favor quality over quantity.
Of course, not everyone has the time nor the money to stay longer in the places he or she is visiting. But if you can, instead of a 3 days express marathon (mostly in capitals and everybody knows that a capital is not at all the best reflection of its country), where you will just rush from a point to another, or paying expensive tours that are destroying local businesses and abusing of the natural resources... Try to travel less often, but longer.
Instead of a few weekends spread throughout the year, go for a one-month holiday break if you can. We are already living in a stressful rushy life every single day. Let's travel differently.
First, you will enjoy yourself way more, discover truly what the country and the culture is about and you will also feel way more relaxed and fulfilled when you will be back home, with plenty of stories to share.
How does it matter if you visited 30 countries if it was just for a few days ?
What matters is to embrace your journey and follow your heart and wants. Do what makes you vibrate. It's not a race, I met a lot of people that they were almost challenging me to visit as much as they did. But in the end, how meaningful was the experience for them ? What's left of it in their minds ?
One last thing, when you have time, you tend to use more environment-friendly modes of transport, like buses or trains rather than planes. See, it's a positive snowball effect.
There is a Swedish word that represents perfectly the idea I want to share with you. This word is "Fika" : A moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life.
To sum up, let's create more Fika moments in our lives, especially while traveling.
5 - Change your transportation mode
Staying longer in a place is the first "compensation" of your plane trip's carbon emissions. Plus, when you take the time to travel, you can also go to different places with more eco-friendly transport modes. If possible do the intercontinental connections by buses, trains, shared lifts... I reckon it's slower, but what's the rush ? Those solutions are not only cheaper but also nicer. A journey on the train makes you enjoy the scenery way better than in a plane, right ?
If the plane isn't switchable, think about the carbon offset.
What does it mean ? It's a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
How does it work ? An individual can purchase carbon offsets by donating money for an eco-friendly association, helping in reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide. Few airline companies proposed this option when you book a flight ticket, as Air New Zealand or Air Canada.
When you are visiting cities, why not avoid the transports at all ? Crowded, noisy, sometimes dirty... Why not walking or biking ?
• It's cheaper and sometimes faster to go by walk than by bus and stay stuck in an awful traffic.
• You see more of a city like this and you can admire some beautiful hidden gems. What about taking a detour ? Discovering this tiny shop around the corner or having a break in this quiet typical café. That's exploration, the beauty of wandering.
• Stay in shape. You will make yourself beautiful legs and well-shaped buttocks. What else do you need ?
We spent 6 months working along the West Coast of France for the summer season. We didn't have a car over there, so we've basically done everything with our bikes, grocery shopping, discovery of the coast... We ended doing more than 2000 km biking at the end and now our legs are more muscular than ever ahah.
6 - Be aware
It's a recent concern of ours that we would like to put in light here. The importance to get to know more about the ethic of the shops/hotel owners/touristic places in general.
There are simple things you can check, for example, if the place isn't making children work, if a hotel doesn't have a fancy swimming pool in a country victim of drought...
When we are traveling, we are impacting a lot the local population, directly and indirectly.
Take just a few minutes to learn more about your destinations, about the conflicts happening over there, about the political situation...
Pick up a local guesthouse rather than an attractive hotel from a foreign company. There is plenty of labels and guides online, such as Le Routard, that exist to help us.
If we start fighting those indecent practices and favorizing the local companies, soon or later the touristic international groups will have to adapt their ways.
7 - Choose your travel activities
Last but not least, it's vital to get better informed on the impact of our activities.
Riding an elephant in Thailand, a camel in Morocco, a donkey in Greece...
It's one of the most significant examples of animal abuse in touristic activities.
Elephants, for example, are getting through a cruel "breaking down process" to carry tourists every day on them. They aren't an attraction, they are living beings, they have feelings !
Nowadays there are other solutions to be near them, some rescue centres, refuges or just in the wild. You don't need to ride them, but you can see them, touch them, even play with them. You can really create a bond with the animal.
Related article : Elephants, love them do not ride them.
Another thing, all those selfies taken with monkeys, tigers, koalas in zoos...
Keep in mind than a wild animal isn't suppose to let himself approach by the humankind. And doing a queue behind hundreds and pay, sometimes a fortune, to have your picture with him... Well, think about it twice. Animals aren't toys, supposed to be passed from a tourist to another for a picture. Most of them are highly drugged to be approached and to handle a long day, sometimes under a heavy sun, for some pictures.
One last thing, the environment itself has to be respected. Some territories, monuments, lands are sacred. From a temple in Asia where you must entered covered, to some tribes lands forbidden to tourists in the Pacific Islands, it's your duty to be aware of it.
Heaps of activities, respecting both nature and wildlife exist : Stand-up paddle, paragliding, trekking, cooking classes, traditional dance classes, climbing, traditional concerts... They are countless. You just need to choose them mindfully and the experience will be so worth it.
No one is perfect and there is no perfect way to be or to travel in this life.
You don't have to be irreproachable and change everything at once. The key is just to take it slowly, but surely. A baby step at a time. Focus on one thing that matters to you the most and once you made it a habit, then let's move on to the next one. But there is no rush.
It's already so great to apply one or two new habits in your daily life. And it takes time to adjust yourself. It just has to feel right for you.
Be imperfectly Zero Waste, be imperfectly Plastic Free, be imperfectly Sustainable.
Because small conscious changes are better than none at all. As Albert Einstein once said, "The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything".
There are many other ways to help and improve our actions, we just shared here the ones that we are putting a lot of effort into it and trying to master entirely. Feel free to share yours with us as well, we would love to hear them from you. Our strength remains in spreading the word as well.
We are so lucky to be able to travel, let's keep it that way. For 2020, we wish for our trips to enrich and not impoverish the populations visited, with respect to each other's cultures and environments.
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Thanks a lot for reading, we would love to hear from you what you think about it and if you have some ideas of your own, please share it. It means so much to us.